Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Memoir Review



Not too long ago I received a review copy of The View from Brindley Mountain, A Memoir of the Rural South. I was anxious to read it for a lot of reasons.

First, because I have been reading a lot of memoirs lately to get a feel for how they are written as I work on mine. Secondly, because I love stories of the rural south. For some time now I have been reading some of the wonderful essays on a blog called The Dew and some of the writing is so eloquent it makes me stop and read a piece one more time.

When I saw the request for reviews by C. Eugene Scruggs, the author of The View From Brindly Mountain, I thought maybe his work would have some of that same southern charm.

I was disappointed.

Don’t get me wrong, the book has some good writing. The preface and prologue are engaging and read like a true memoir. However, as the book progresses, it turns into more of a history reference book than a memoir. There are lots of facts, some of them quite interesting if you are a history buff, but there is never enough of what these facts mean to the author or how they affected his life. Nor is there an overall theme that most memoirs usually have.

The reader is never really pulled into the scenes that Scruggs is relating. Rather, the reader stands outside looking in as Scruggs writes about what happened. How different from some engaging memoirs like Inklings by Jeffery Koterba and Eat, Pray and Love by Elizabeth Gilbert.

What about you? What kind of memoirs do you like to read? What makes a memoir work?

5 comments:

KarenG said...

Very helpful review. I too love Southern writing and writers, and memoirs are one of my favorite genre! And thanks for the two recommended, I'll add them to my Goodreads list!

Maryann Miller said...

Glad you found the review helpful, Karen. Hope you enjoy the books I recommended. I really liked them a lot as they had all the emotion and reader connection I didn't find in The View.

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

I do like Southern memoir--Rick Bragg's "All Over But the Shouting" was great.

Elizabeth
Mystery Writing is Murder

Stephen Tremp said...

I don't care so much for memoirs, but I do like a good fiction based on a person's memoirs. I think this makes for a terrific story.

Stephen Tremp

Maryann Miller said...

Stephen, The Kite Runner read like a memoir to me. I guess because it was written by an Afghan about growing up in Afghanistan.